Language Resource Center helps students become bilingual

GVL/Archive - James McAlloon (right) Nicolo Genovali (left) working in the LRC (Language Resource Center) Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.

GVL/Archive – James McAlloon (right) Nicolo’ Genovali (left) working in the LRC (Language Resource Center) Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.

Emily Doran

Learning a foreign language can be intimidating and challenging, especially for beginners jumping in at the college level. That’s why Grand Valley State University, which offers classes for 10 different foreign languages, has the Language Resource Center (LRC), a unique computer lab equipped with tools and resources to help students succeed in breaking the language barrier.

“We have a lot of applications on the computers for students taking language classes,” said Caitlin Zylstra, a lab assistant in the LRC. “But we also have a vast film collection and music collection. (There’s) just a lot of technology.”

Zylstra believes watching movies and listening to music in the LRC helps students become acquainted with different cultures, helping them with the acquisition of a foreign language.

“I think getting acquainted with the culture is very vital in appreciating the language you’re learning,” she said. “By watching movies, you’re getting better equipped with the language itself and the same goes with music. You might hear phrases used that you wouldn’t normally hear in class.”

Hannah Yesmunt, a lab assistant in the LRC, thinks the benefits of visiting the LRC go far beyond the technological tools available.

“I think the best resource is that you’re surrounded by other students who are studying the language,” she said. “(It’s) a really great way to practice your language outside the classroom.”

Zylstra agrees the interaction between students is a key advantage to studying in the LRC.

“I would recommend students come into the LRC once a week, even if it just means doing your homework here instead of at home,” she said. “You can learn a lot from your peers just by walking in here. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in and not had another conversation going on in a different language.”

Recently, several changes have been implemented in the LRC, with still more updates to come.

“We’ve changed what we use to view movies on,” Zylstra said. “We completely changed what we’re using for music. And we’re actually going to be getting rid of all the computers in Lab A and switching to MacBooks.”

In order to encourage students to use their time most effectively while working in the LRC, the time tracker policy—which required students to use the lab for a certain amount of time during the semester—has been changed.

“We don’t do time tracker anymore,” Zylstra said. “Now (students are) doing mini projects instead of the 50 minutes (a week in the LRC).”

Even though students no longer have to log their time spent in the LRC, they are still encouraged to come in and take advantage of the resources available.

“I think it’s important (for students to utilize these resources) because not all universities have a Language Resource Center,” Yesmunt said. “I think it’s special that we have a place people can go to continue to study their language and work on their skills. It would be a waste not to use it.”